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Take your Daughter to Work Day

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The ‘take your daughter to work’ day in Florida has become, in some circles, almost an institution. The idea is that young women will accompany their mothers or fathers to the workplace so they can learn about the working world and so become inspired. In this regard, it seems to me that the concept isn’t really worth that much, but if it’s merely an excuse to hang out with your child, why not? My son’s mother felt that the institution was too exclusionary: boys should not be left out. Nor could she be bothered to participate; that task fell to me. So, on ‘take your daughter to work day’ I had a ten-year old boy in tow. The problem was, I really didn’t have a “work” to go to; at that point I had an office at home and just coming over and watching television did not fit in with the spirit of this august institution.

I thought of taking him to the courthouse to see a trial. There would be action, drama-our criminal justice system, in all its glory, on display. Unfortunately, I had had troubling experiences with him at the courthouse on previous occasions. Once, when due to illness and a scheduling conflict, I was forced to bring him with me. I had a full hearing schedule in several courtrooms. I brought him to the final courtroom on my list, an hour before the hearing. There was almost no one there-good. I had him sit in the front row, near the bailiffs, and told him not to move for any reason. I figured that the bailiffs were there, he would be safe, nothing could go wrong. When I finally came back the courtroom was full. I couldn’t see him. I walked up to the front of the courtroom to find him surrounded by handcuffed and shackled State prisoners who had been brought over for their hearings. He was chatting away with his new friends while the judge was at sidebar.  One of the detainees had asked him what he was in for. The criminal consensus was that it must have been something terrible, since he was so young–and was sitting in the front row.  He told me that it was an exciting experience. I was less than thrilled.

We arrived at the courthouse in the afternoon–a delicious lunch precedes any important mission–and wandered around the halls trying to find a trial in progress. Most people are unaware that trials are somewhat rare.  Someone wandering the halls is often in need of help, and it wasn’t long before I was approached by a security guard who asked me what I was doing there. I responded that we were there because it was ‘take your daughter to work day.’ The guard looked at us strangely. “Don’t ask,”  I told him. He told me that the only trial he knew about was in Judge Firtel’s courtroom. We went upstairs on the escalator, which was great fun. I had appeared before Judge Leon Firtel in the past. He is a hard-working judge, and fair. It seemed to me that he enjoyed trials, and did his best to be fair to both sides. I expected a friendly reception for us on ‘take your daughter to work day.’

We walked into Judge Firtel’s courtroom and sat down. The prosecutor was interrogating a witness, but stopped immediately and turned around to look at us.  Everyone was staring, especially the jury. I felt like, as they say in Mississippi, the illegitimate child at a family reunion. Judge Firtel immediately called a halt to the proceedings and ordered me to come forward.  To sidebar. When I got there, he asked me,

–What are you doing here?

–It’s ‘take your daughter to work day.’ 

He looked at me strangely.

–I know, Judge, his mother didn’t want him to be left out. I was trying to find a trial for us to watch, and I heard there was a trial here.

–You have no other business here? Judge Firtel asked me.

I told him that I did not.

–The defendant in this courtroom has been accused of committing a sex crime. The testimony is expected to be, unpleasant. I’ve ordered that no children be present. I don’t think this is the kind of thing you’d want your son to hear.

I thanked Judge Firtel, walked back, picked up my son and we left his courtroom. I told my son that there were other things for us to do-maybe we could go to Toys r us?

I later found out that he had told one of his friends that his dad is a very important person because when he walks into a courtroom the judge stops the proceedings to have a chat.

I felt honored. The ‘take your daughter to work’ day had been a success.

Written by mokane

August 6, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Wonderful story. Of course I am a fan of this writer and am still waiting to read his first published novel. Keep writing. It’s entertaining.

    Anna AKA the Live Astrologer

    The Live Astrologer

    August 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

  2. An intresting read and very funny.



    August 31, 2008 at 7:21 pm

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